As BMW’s portfolio gets wider and wider, and SUVs become more and more important, it can seem as though BMW’s lost its way and become an SUV maker, rather than the builder of small sports sedans and coupes we’ve come to know. However, if you actually look at the data, there are some encouraging signs for proper BMW enthusiasts.

Last year, BMW sold 490,969 3 Series/4 Series models, making the pair by far and away the best selling Bimmers of 2021. That’s about 76,000 more units sold than the next best-selling BMWs, the X3/X4 siblings, which sold around 414,000 models. The 490,000 3 Series/4 Series models sold show a 16 percent increase in sales versus the previous year.

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Following the BMW 3 Series/4 Series and X3/X4 were the 5 Series/6 Series (326,212), the X1/X2 (311,928), and the 1 Series/2 Series (265,964). Interestingly, BMW’s dead-last car in terms of sales was the Z4 (14,778), which had even fewer sales than the BMW iX/i3/i8, despite the latter two going out of production.

The BMW 3 Series and 4 Series are supposed to be BMW’s bread and butter — small-ish, sporty sedans and coupes. BMW is a 2002 company, that’s the car that made the brand what it is today. Which now makes it a 3 Series company, as the 3er is the natural successor to the original 2002. If the 3 Series, and its 4 Series siblings, wasn’t the brand’s best selling mode, something would be wrong.

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It’s also rather surprising that the 3 Series/4 Series duo were the best selling BMWs of 2021. SUVs dominate the marketplace at the moment and the BMW X3/X4 would have been my first guest. However, it’s incredibly encouraging to see BMW’s 3 Series taking the lead for the brand and that more customers worldwide appreciated the 3 Series more than the X3 in 2021. Especially when cars like the Tesla Model 3 continue to poach customers from BMW.

Sales should get even better for BMW next year, too. The BMW 3 Series is due for its LCI facelift, which will bring about some design, interior, and potentially technology changes that will keep the 3er fresh until this generation rides its life-cycle out.